Friday, 15 February 2013

2012 films: #7


Directed by Christopher Nolan

It’s quite an experience to be exposed to all the madness and ambition of The Dark Knight Rises after watching Doodlebug, Nolan’s short film from 1997. However, we do not really need to go that deep: 1998’s Following (an absolute classic, it should be said) would be enough to show the long way the director went from Kafka-esque to Wagnerian. Certainly, his old self can still be traced here (mainly in the ‘difficult’ sequencing and effective plot twists), but this sci-fi, big-budget romp is miles away from bugs, slippers and depressed writers walking the black and white streets of London.

Now obviously everything about The Dark Knight Rises is quite preposterous. Everything. Which is of course hardly surprising considering that it is all based (so loosely that God knows, I shouldn’t be mentioning it at all) on a comic book. But all the same: watching Nolan’s latest is a lot like being gulped down by a giant sea monster and not minding that at all. In a word, exhilarating.

It’s close to three hours long, yet again Batman has to save the city from a heinous villain (I thought Tom Hardy’s “liberator” figure was utterly convincing) – so where’s the catch? I guess there is none (other than it is done so well and that you feel like a kid impressed by the sheer size of a birthday present), but you have to admire the wit and intelligence behind it all. I won’t be getting into political allusions and stuff, but there’s something to appreciate here on a purely intellectual level. Not your random superhero crap, this is a highly commercial blockbuster done with brain and, dare I say it, heart.

Plus, competent acting and (of course) impressive cinematography and visual effects. Really, if art’s true aim is to impress, then the film certainly qualifies. I never cared for Batman comics, I was bored by Batman Begins and I thought The Dark Knight wouldn’t have amounted to much without Heath Ledger, but somehow I found the final installment (I suppose it is final) absolutely fascinating. It’s clearly a work of thrilling imagination, and if someone has it – it’s got to be Christopher Nolan.

Just a personal note, though. I would really love Nolan to calm down a bit and do some of that old, cheap, left-field thing again.

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